2019 AEMV Student Case Report Contest

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Lafeber Company was proud to sponsor the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV) Student Case Report Contest. Veterinary students from all over the world were encouraged to write a 2-page case report (1500 words or less) about an exotic companion mammal seen at their college of veterinary medicine or during a clinical experience.



Submissions closed April 13, 2018, and four judges from the Research Committee evaluated the 14 case reports received. These judges were blinded to the students, mentors, co-authors, and institutions at which the cases were seen. The winners are:

1st Place:Mila Hosli (Student – University of Zurich), Valeria Meier DVM, DACVR (Radiation Oncology), DipECVDI (add Rad Oncol), MRCVS (Clinician) and Samuel Frei DVM (Clinician) (Supervising Clinicians):  Hypofractionated radiation therapy for thymoma in a rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

An 8-year-old male neutered rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) was presented with bilateral exophthalmos as a leading symptom. The referring veterinarian identified a mass in the cranial mediastinum after thoracic radiographs and ultrasound. The rabbit was then referred to a veterinary teaching hospital for further diagnostics and therapy. Ultrasonographic examination revealed a cystic and a solid mass and ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration under sedation was performed. Cytological investigation revealed principally small-lymphocyte rich smears. A presumptive diagnosis of thymoma with a primary differential diagnosis of small cell lymphoma was made. Treatment options included surgical removal or radiotherapy and the owner opted for radiotherapy. A hypofractionated protocol consisting of 5 fractions of 6Gy with a total dose of 30Gy was applied. Delineated organs at risk included heart, lungs, spinal cord, trachea and esophagus. After fraction number 2, computed tomography was repeated to assess the response of the tumor to radiotherapy and adapt target volumes. Tumor volume was reduced by 18% compared to the start of radiation therapy. No signs of acute radiation toxicity were observed during or after therapy. A hypofractionated radiotherapy protocol can lead to tumor size reduction and, according to some studies, to long-term tumor control. With modern equipment, delivery and planning techniques, the risk of radiation toxicity can be reduced. Radiotherapy can therefore be considered a good alternative treatment for thymoma in rabbits.

2nd Place:Darcy Stephenson (Student – University of Illinois, USA), Krista Keller DVM, DACZM (Supervising Clinician):  Multiple Traumatic Mandibular Fractures Successfully Managed in a Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

A 4-month-old intact female rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) was presented after sustaining a traumatic skull injury. Upon examination, a mandibular symphyseal fracture was appreciated. Computed tomography confirmed this, and revealed an incomplete, non-displaced right mandibular ramus fracture. The symphyseal fracture was repaired under anesthesia with cerclage wire. The ramus fracture was allowed to heal without fixation. The rabbit made a complete recovery, with cerclage wire being removed 3 weeks after initial fixation.

3rd Place:Maria Raquel Juarez (Student – Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, USA), James K. Morrisey, DVM (Supervising Clinician):  Cystine urolithiasis and urethral rupture in a ferret (Mustela putorius furo)

A 1.5-year-old castrated male ferret (Mustela putorius furo) presented with a 24-hour history of vocalization and stranguria 1 week following transition to a diet with a high animal protein content. Radiographs revealed an enlarged urinary bladder containing five round, granular calculi and a single calculus in the urethra. Cystotomy was pursued and the uroliths were submitted for analysis. Post-operative radiographs confirmed successful removal of the uroliths; however, an abnormal opacity in the perineal space was suggestive of urethral rupture and iatrogenic gas introduction. A cystourethrogram corroborated tearing of the pelvic urethra caudoventral to the ischial arch. Second intention healing was elected and an indwelling urinary catheter was placed for urinary drainage. Through the duration of his hospitalization, repeat cystourethrograms were acquired to assess urethral repair. Gradually the patency of the urethra was restored. The patient was discharged once he demonstrated normal urination without the catheter. Following discharge, results for the composition of the cystic calculi arrived and revealed the stones were cystine uroliths. Several factors influence urolith development in ferrets, including the amount of dietary protein, quality of dietary protein, and genetics. Ferrets are obligate carnivores that require relatively high levels of meat-derived dietary protein; however, kibble high in animal-derived proteins will acidify urine, decreasing the solubility of cystine and increasing the risk of cystine urolithiasis. Our patient consumed a diet with twice the recommended levels of crude protein (62%) and developed cystine urolithiasis, indicative of a need to evaluate the role of high meat-protein diets in ferret health.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Nicole Winter (Student – University of Zurich), Samuel Frei DVM (Supervising Clinician):  Severe Urolithasis in a Domestic Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
  • Kaitlyn Liukaitis (Student – Ross University, Clinical Year at Louisiana State University), Kyra J. Berd DVM and Thomas N. Tully Jr. DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice), DECZM (Avian) (Supervising Clinicians):  Severe Myiasis of a Domestic Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
  • Nikola Sadovska (Student – University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences – Brno, Czech Republic), Vladimir Jekl PhD, DECZM (Supervising Clinician):  Subcutaneous myxosarcoma in a pet rabbit ( Oryctolagus cuniculus )


1st Place:Carpenter JW (ed). Exotic Animal Formulary, 5th ed. Elsevier, 2017.

Quesenberry KE, Carpenter JW (eds). Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery, 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2012

Mayer J, Donnelly TM. Clinical Veterinary Advisor: Birds and Exotic Pets. St. Louis: Saunders; 2012

Approximate value 250 U.S. dollars

2nd Place:Carpenter JW (ed). Exotic Animal Formulary, 5th ed. Elsevier, 2017.

Quesenberry KE, Carpenter JW (eds). Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery, 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2012

Approximate value 150 U.S. dollars

3rd Place:Quesenberry KE, Carpenter JW (eds). Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery, 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2012

Approximate value 100 U.S. dollars

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Permission was obtained from the supervising clinician (required) and the owner (optional depending on local privacy laws or facility standards).

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Interested in learning more about Exotic Companion Mammals? Visit AEMV.org or email aemv@navc.com for more information.
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